Central Region Group

58 Old Boundary (Nevada’s Southern Boundary 1861-1867)

on U.S. Highway 95, six miles north of Beatty, Nevada

The 37th degree north latitude is marked at this point as the dividing line between the territories of Utah and New Mexico under the provisions of the compromise of 1850 which originally organized the land ceded by Mexico in 1848.

When the territory of Nevada was carved from western Utah in 1861, this line became the southern boundary of the new territory and continued to serve as such when the territory and state were enlarged by extensions to the east in 1862 and 1866 respectively.

In 1867, the Nevada legislature approved the action of Congress to add that portion of the territory of Arizona which lay to the south of this line, west of the 114 west longitude and the Colorado River, and to the east of the boundary of California. This action taken on January 18, 1867, gave to the state of Nevada the permanent boundaries as they are today.

54 Ward Mining District

on U.S. Highway 93, twenty miles south of Ely

The ghost town of Ward, in the foothills of the Egan Range, lies some eight miles west of here. Booming from 1876 until 1882, with a peak population of 1,500, Ward was somewhat of a lawless mining camp. Early killings did occur, but justice was meted out by the vigilante committee and the hanging rope.

A million dollars worth of silver was taken from a single chamber of the Ward mine, yet an abandoned house was used for the first school and no movement was ever started to build a church.

The town was abandoned by the late 1880s, but new discoveries and better mining methods prompted a resurgence of activity in 1906 and again in the 1960s.

53 Hamilton

on U.S. Highway 50, thirty-sevem miles west of Ely

The mines of the White Pine district were first established in 1865. Between 1868 and 1875, they supported many thriving towns including Hamilton, Eberhardt, Treasure City, and Shermantown. These communities, now all ghost towns, are clustered eleven miles south of this point.

Hamilton and its neighbors thrived as a result of large-scale silver discoveries in 1868. Experiencing one of the most intense, but shortest-lived silver stampedes ever recorded, the years 1868-1869 saw some 10,000 people living in huts and caves on Treasure Hill at Mount Hamilton, at an elevation of 8,000 to 10,500 feet above sea level.

Hamilton was incorporated in 1869 and became the first county seat of White Pine County that same year. It was disincorporated in 1875. In this brief span of time, a full-sized town came into bloom with a main street and all the usual businesses. A fine brick courthouse was constructed in 1870.

On June 27, 1873, the main portion of the town was destroyed by fire. The town never fully recovered. In 1885, another fire burned the courthouse and caused the removal of the White Pine County seat to Ely.

52 Cherry Creek

at the end of State Route 489, forty-five miles north of Ely

Here, at one time, was the largest town in White Pine County. Part of the Cherry Creek mining district, Cherry Creek’s greatest gold and silver production was between 1872 and 1883. At the peak of its prosperity, the town had an estimated population of 6,000.

Five miles south of here is Egan Canyon, where one of the oldest gold mines in Nevada was located. As early as 1850, American Indians mined gold there. A stage station was located by Major Howard Egan in 1859 for Woodward and Chorpenning’s California Mail Co. In 1860, it was used by the Pony Express as a change station and from 1861 to 1869 was an overland stage station.

In 1864, a five-stamp mill-the first in eastern Nevada-and a small mining camp were constructed here. Most activity had ceased by 1883, but in 1897 there was a revival of mining, which lasted into the early 1900s. During this period, prior to the completion of the Nevada Northern Railroad in 1906, freight and passenger traffic was via long strings of massive freight wagons and stagecoaches from Toano and Wells. In 1933, the old mine was reopened and a new camp was built. Production from the Egan mine over the years was approximately $3,000,000.

51 Schellbourne

at the junction of U.S. Highway 93 and State Route 2, thirty-nine miles north of Ely

Schellbourne, in the foothills of the Schell Creek Range, was a Shoshone village site long before it began its more recent career in 1859. Captain James Simpson passed through the area, looking for a short route across the Great Basin. That same year an overland stage and mail station was built at Shellbourne. In 1860, the Pony Express company used the same facilities, and when the telegraph arrived in 1863, it passed over this same route.

During the rush to the Virginia City mines in 1859 and 1860, it became necessary for the army to send troops to this point to protect participants in the resulting western pilgrimage.

Silver ore was discovered in the mountains immediately to the east of Schellbourne in the early 1870s, and it became part of the Aurum Mining District in 1871. An active mining camp developed with a population of over 500 people. By 1885, the ore had been mostly depleted and the camp abandoned. The district and adjacent valley were then acquired by “Uncle Billy” Burke as a ranch. Schellbourne was subsequently operated as the headquarters for various ranches since that time.

42 Big Smoky Valley

on State Route 376 at Carver’s Rest Area

Named for its hazy distances, this valley has witnessed a parade of famous men and stirring events. The valley and its bordering Toiyabe and Toquima ranges are Shoshone territory.

Jedediah Smith, intrepid trapper and trail-blazer, was the first European American in the area, crossing the valley’s southern end from the west in 1827. In 1845, John C. Frémont passed through the valley, accompanied by such figures of the American West as Kit Carson and Basil LaJeunesse.

In 1859, Captain James Simpson located the “central route” across the valley’s northern end. Thus began the historic decade 1859-1869, which saw Chorpenning’s Jackass Mail, the Pony Express, the Overland Telegraph, and the Concord Coaches of the Overland Mail and Stage Co. crossing the valley.

Silver strikes at Austin (1862-1863) initiated the valley’s first mining boom. Numerous bustling mining camps sprang up, including Bunker Hill, Kingston, Geneva, Santa Fe, Ophir Canyon, and Jefferson.

Following the 1900 Tonopah silver strike, mining surged again. Two new towns, Manhattan and Round Mountain, started with a brief revival of many earlier camps.

34 The Old Spanish Trail 1829 – 1850

on State Route 160 on Mountain Springs Summit

Stretching for 130 miles across Clark County, this historic horse trail became Nevada’s first route of commerce in 1829 when trade was initiated between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. The trail was later used by the wagons of the “49ers” and by Mormon pioneers. Concrete posts marking the trail were erected in 1965.

20 Columbus

on U.S. Highway 95, nine miles north of Coaldale, Nevada

The remnants of Columbus are located on the edge of the Columbus salt marsh, five miles to the southwest.

The town was initially settled in 1865, when a quartz mill was erected at the site. This was a favorable location for a mill, because it was the only spot for several miles around where water was in sufficient quantity for operation.

The full importance of Columbus was not recognized until 1871, when William Troop discovered borax in the locality. Shortly thereafter, four borax companies were actively engaged in working the deposits on the marsh.

Columbus probably enjoyed its most prosperous time in about 1875, when the population was reported to have reached 1,000. That year, the town had many kinds of business establishments, including a post office and a newspaper, The Borax Miner.

In 1881, about 100 people were left after the borax operations had practically ceased. All mining and milling stopped entirely shortly after that time.

15 Tonopah

on U.S. Highway 95 in Tonopah, Nevada

Jim Butler, District Attorney of Nye County, is credited with the turn-of-century discovery, which ended a twenty-year slump in Nevada’s economy. American Indians originally used the name Tonopah for a small spring in the nearby San Antonio Mountains, long before Butler camped in this area in May 1900. Tonopah became the richest silver producer in the nation and replaced Belmont as the Nye County county seat in 1905. The mines spawned a railroad, several huge mills, and a bustling population of approximately 10,000.

The mines faltered in the 1920s, but Tonopah achieved long-lasting fame because of the prominent financial and political leaders it produced. Many camps and communities followed in the wake of Tonopah’s boom, most of which have become ghost towns.

14 Goldfield

on U.S. Highway 95 in Goldfield, Nevada

For a twenty-year period prior to 1900, mining in Nevada fell into a slump that cast the entire state into a bleak depression and caused the loss of a third of the population.

The picture brightened overnight following the spectacular strikes in Tonopah and, shortly afterwards, in Goldfield. Gold ore was discovered here in December 1902 by two Nevada-born prospectors, Harry Stimler and Billy Marsh. From 1904 to 1918, Goldfield boomed. The city had a railroad that connected to Las Vegas and a peak population of 20,000, making it Nevada’s largest community at the time. Between 1903 and 1940 a total of $86,765,044 in precious metals was produced here.